Rabbits and Hares

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There weren’t always rabbits in Ireland! Rabbits were introduced to Ireland by the Normans in the 12th century and are now common throughout our island. Rabbits love to make burrows (dig holes) which is why their Latin name, cuniculus, means underground.

Rabbits have up to ten babies in every litter. Rabbit babies are born with no fur and are blind. Unfortunately, most wild rabbits don’t even live to the age of two, although pet rabbits can live to ten years old or even more.

Do you have a pet rabbit?



The Irish hare is one of our true native mammals and is found only in Ireland. The coat of the Irish hare may vary in colour throughout the year, developing white patches, sometimes they can even become fully white. These hares are usually found in wild grasslands.

Hares only have about 2 babies in every litter. Unlike rabbits, hares are born fully furred and with their eyes open.

Lets look at more differences between Rabbits and Hares

Hares Rabbits

There are not so many hares left

There are still a lot of rabbits

Adults weigh 2.5 – 3.5 Kg

Adults weigh 1.5 – 2 Kg

Hares live above ground

Rabbits live underground

Hares are picky eaters

Rabbits can adapt to different types of food

Hares do not breed in their first year

Rabbits can breed from the age of three months

Born fully furred with eyes open

 Born with no fur and eyes shut

Young hares are called leverets and weigh around 120 grams at birth

Young rabbits are called kittens and weigh around 50 grams at birth

Hares may only live about 3 years in the wild Rabbits live for around 1.5 years in the wild